Today, July 5, 2013, marks the second anniversary of the beating of Kelly Thomas by officers of the Fullerton Police Department. On the night of July 5, 2011, officers responded to a telephone call claiming that Mr. Thomas, a schizophrenic homeless man well-known in the area, had been testing car door handles in the parking lot of the Fullerton Transportation Center. The responding police officers escalated what could have been a routine situation into a beating that left Mr. Thomas so severely injured that he never regained consciousness, and was eventually taken off of life support systems by his grieving family.
Much has happened in the intervening two years, but much remains to be done. Officers involved in the beating have been charged, but have not yet gone to trial. Michael Sellers, Fullerton’s Chief of Police at the time, is long gone, eventually replaced by Dan Hughes. One lawsuit against the city has been settled, another has yet to be resolved. City Council members were recalled from office for not being responsive to the crisis, and others elected in their place. Some reforms have been enacted by Chief Hughes, but two years later there is still no civilian oversight of the Fullerton Police Department.
The summer of 2011 is still fresh in the minds of those of us who, week after week, filled the sidewalks, and sometimes streets, in front of police headquarters to demand justice for a murdered man, and for reforms that would help to ensure that it never happened again. It’s hard to forget the rage we felt because we still feel it, but we can remember Kelly Thomas in a quieter way tonight at the place where his life was taken from him. Meet at 7:00 pm at Kelly’s Corner, near the bus depot at the Fullerton Transportation Center for a peaceful candlelight vigil organized by Kelly’s mother.